Little Air Shows

This past weekend we attended the Madras Airshow which is a very friendly and easy to attend event if you navigate through the massive wilderness east of the Cascade Range in central Oregon.

This yellow StaggerWing is where many of Ed’s friends know to gather and find each other as this plane always gets a prime spot when it attends an aviation event. The man in the chair in the shade of the fuselage is a local legend, Larry, who at 82 is still flying, as he’s been most of his life. I took a few pictures of Larry as he’s had health issues this year and when Larry can no longer fly, he’ll prefer the adventure that awaits after death.

Since the barnstorming days, there’s always been a mystery, adventure, and romance around airplanes. The history of aviation innovation in Oregon includes a small group of men from Eugene in the 1950’s who fought the standardization dictates of the government. As a result, there were a lot of interesting designs present at this little Air Show – which is really more an amazing display of aircraft through time than an aerobatic presentation.

I have no idea what these two planes are, but having them staged next to each other is the perfect example of the evolution of designs, and different types of flying. Pilots tend to favor certain types of planes for the experience in flight. Some planes are designed specific to certain environments, like Alaska.

And others are all about performance and snazzy paint designs.

There were tee shirts, sunglasses, airplane themed crafts, and mini marshmallow launchers to buy. Food vendors offered barbecued meals, Asian specialties, smoothies, and also the standard burgers and hotdogs. One food trailer featured a marionberry cobbler that was  super yummy.

For the less enthusiastic aviators, there were classic cars and monster military machines. A motorcycle stunt team performed on the ground and a variety of aircraft danced to music in the sky, which was only slightly hazed by the Warm Springs forest fire. The winds were favorable and most of the smoke was blown to the west.


It’s always fun for me to remember that I’m a town girl with no passion for aviation or cars when I attend events like these. As a young girl I dreamed about spending my days in libraries and my evenings would be devoted to musical theater productions. But it was exciting to step beyond my comfort zone three decades ago because there was this really cute guy, that I met in college, and he was into airplanes.

When I think about that girl, and if I had become all I aspired to be, I would never have been on the flight line when these historic warbirds landed after their performance.

These machines had a different purpose in decades past. There were no simulated wind tunnels or computer generated designs for style and performance. They are slow and loud and are a powerful presence in the sky. I am impressed with the flash and dash of precision stunts, but it is when the decades old engines start to rumble that I become entranced. These machines were designed on paper when the winds aloft were determined by balloons and kites.

I’ve attended all types and sizes of airshows through the years, but it’s the little ones with vintage aircraft that I enjoy the most.

3 thoughts on “Little Air Shows

  1. Rose L

    My dad dragged us to airshows all throughout our growing up. We lived in S. California so we went to many shows at the bases and small air fields. I remember one show where part of it was held in the blimp hangars at LTA base in Santa Ana (Lighter Than Air) where they kept the blimps for many years. Inside a blimp they had small model planes whose wings and body were a film that looked like bubbles and they flew VERY slowly so it took staring to see them move!
    Outside were the real airplanes and also military shows (Blue Angels).
    My dad used to fly an untra-light airplane until he turned 70 and mom made him stop.


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